Stories from Quick Reads and South Asia
Blogger Antarik Anwesan recalls an alarming experience at Goregaon train Station in Mumbai, India. A local train started from the platform without notice and the crowd hurried to get on board. As the train gathered speed quickly, some people fell from the door and two persons were miraculously saved from death. This was not reported in any media. The blogger highlights that although the casualties in the local trains are much higher each year, the government is not making provisions for safety for the ever-increasing demand on the local trains.
Bangladesh's Elite Paramiltary Unit Is Under Fire for Human Rights Violations. This Blogger Asks: What About Israel's IDF?
Brad Adams, the executive director of Human Rights Watch's Asia division, has recently written a letter to Bangladesh's prime minister suggesting that the Bangladesh government should disband the paramilitary Rapid Action Battalion (RAB). Quoting news sources, he accused the RAB of being responsible for more than 800 extrajudicial killings in the past 10 years.
Human rights organizations have long accused the elite anti-crime and anti-terrorism unit, which was created in 2004, of human rights violations. A number of its members are under investigation in Bangladesh in connection to the abduction and killing of seven men (see Global Voices report).
Some netizens were Irked by the tone of Adam's letter to a sovereign country. Blogger Himu wrote for Bangla blog Sachalayatan a response to Adams, suggesting he be consistent and write to Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu:
ব্র্যাড অ্যাডামস লিখেছেন, “র্যাবকে এখন আর সংস্কার করে চালানো সম্ভব বলে আমরা বিশ্বাস করি না। আইনের ঊর্ধ্বে থেকে কোনো ধরনের জবাবদিহিতার তোয়াক্কা না করে র্যাব পরিচালনার একটি সংস্কৃতি তৈরি হয়ে গেছে। এই অবস্থায় এ বাহিনীকে অবশ্যই বিলুপ্ত করতে হবে, যাতে হত্যাকাণ্ড বন্ধ করা হয়।”
মানবাধিকারবারি ব্র্যাড অ্যাডামসের উদ্বেগের প্রতি শ্রদ্ধা জানিয়ে এবার একটা ছোটো আবদার করি। প্যাড থেকে আরেকটা কাগজ ছিঁড়ুন। কলমদানি থেকে কলমটা বের করে খাপ খুলুন। তারপর লিখুন ইসরায়েলের প্রধানমন্ত্রীকে। তাকে বলুন, ইসরায়েল ডিফেন্স ফোর্সেস প্রতিষ্ঠানটিকেও বিলুপ্ত করে দিতে। ২০০০ সাল থেকে ২০১২ সাল পর্যন্ত ইসরায়েল ডিফেন্স ফোর্সেসের হাতে নিহত ফিলিস্তিনিদের একটি পরিসংখ্যান পাবেন এখানে। এদের মাঝে একটি বড় অংশ নিরীহ বেসামরিক মানুষ, তাদের একটা বড় অংশ শিশু, এবং সংখ্যাটাও ৮০০ থেকে বেশি।
আমি নিশ্চিত, আপনি বিশ্বাস করেন না যে ইসরায়েল ডিফেন্স ফোর্সেসকে সংস্কার করে চালানো সম্ভব। কাজেই ফিলিস্তিনে নির্বিচার হত্যাকাণ্ড বন্ধ করার জন্য যে এই বাহিনীকে বিলুপ্ত করার অনুরোধ আপনি ইসরায়েলি প্রধানমন্ত্রীকে করবেন, সেরকম তো আমরা ধরে নিতেই পারি। নাকি?
কবে আপনি ঐ চিঠিটি লিখবেন, দেখার জন্যে সাগ্রহে অপেক্ষা করছি।
Brad Adams wrote, “We do not believe that RAB can be reformed. It has developed a culture of operating above the law without civilian accountability. It must be disbanded so that the killings come to an end.”
With respect to human rights activist Mr. Brad Adams, I would request him to tear another page from his pad, take a pen and to write a similar letter to the Israeli prime minister urging him to disband the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF). You will have the accounts of killings by IDF available here. A lot of these victims are innocent civilians and a large portion of them are children, and the number is a lot more than 800.
I am sure you will agree with me that the IDF cannot be reformed. So can we hope that you will also suggest the Israeli prime minister that IDF should be disbanded?
We are eagerly waiting to see when you will write this letter.
One commenter wondered cynically:
মানবধিকারের সংজ্ঞা বোধহয় অঞ্চল ভেদে ভিন্ন হয়।
Perhaps human rights is defined differently in regions of the world.
Indian users are reacting to the impending demise of Google's Orkut social networking platform. Orkut is the oldest citizen media site Indians used and around 20% of Orkut’s users today are from India.
Vinaya Naidu at Lighthouse Insights compiles some of the users’ comments on the end of Orkut:
Priya Mittal was able to find her first childhood classmate via Orkut, which “felt like a miracle then.”
Avid biker Vishal Kataria: “It took me a while to leave Orkut and switch to Facebook because I got attached to it. Somehow, that feeling has never occurred for Facebook.”
Thirty seven Sinhalese and four Tamil asylum seekers from Sri Lanka sailed in a boat towards Australia and were intercepted west of the Cocos Island late last month by Australian authorities. They were returned to Sri Lanka, their point of origin, and they appeared in a court in the country's southwest yesterday.
— DushiYanthini (@DushiYanthini) July 8, 2014
Citizen journalism site Groundviews also commented:
— Groundviews (@groundviews) July 9, 2014
From a slow start in the late Nineteen Nineties mobile phone penetration in Pakistan has jumped up in recent years to 77% nationally and amongst urban class people to almost 100%. Dr. Tahir Rauf at Pak Tea House reports that the ubiquitous mobile phone use in Pakistan has brought a lot of social and economic changes:
These changes in a broader context called Pakistani neoliberalism, characterized by accelerated consumerism with full scale participation in the global economy.
Facing persecution in Pakistan, many Ahmadiyya Muslims and Christians have taken refuge in Sri Lanka. These refugees are mostly held in Boossa and Mirihana detention centers and have to live on government-provided rations as they are not eligible for work.
According to the media, the Sri Lankan government is preparing to deport about 1,450 Pakistani and 50 Afghan refugees who have apparently fled to rural areas in Sri Lanka. More than 1,400 of the targeted refugees have been registered as asylum seekers at the UN refugee agency office in Colombo.
Human Rights Watch has requested the Sri Lankan government not to summarily deport these minorities. Meanwhile, Pakistan has disowned these refugees and an uncertain future awaits for them if they are deported.
W3Lanka English blog opines:
The practice of deporting them is very unethical. They can be economic migrants per se the claim of the Pakistan government. What if they are actually threatened people?
Stand-up comedian Sourav Pant‘s comedy company East Indian Comedy has uploaded a YouTube video lampooning what a government-approved sex education class in India would look like. The video has gone viral, with more than 1 million hits in three days.
The video mocks a suggestion made by Health Minister Harsh Vardhan a few weeks ago that sex education should be banned in Indian schools (he later claimed his comments were taken out of context) as well as parodies how teachers shy away from discussing the issue in the class.
“Sex Education in India” created a buzz on social media. Santosh Kumar wrote on the East Indian Comedy's Facebook page: “The same thing happened with me when i was in school!”
Some like Sravan Kumar did not like the video: “Dont forget India is the country which gave Kaama sutra to the world.”
ActionAid, a British charity, mentioned in a recent report that 90% of commercial sex workers in Bangladesh are addicted to Oradexon, a steroid meant for cattle. Diaspora Bangladeshi blogger Anushay Hossain explains why they use this drug:
This medicine meant to fatten cows has become the preferred drug among the madams [employers of sex workers] of Bangladesh. They are using the pills to mask the real age of the underage girls working for sex in their brothels by making them appear older and at the same time making the more ‘seasoned’ sex-worker look plum and voluptuous.
Nivedita N Kumar, a journalist, posts an emotional Facebook note which has gone viral. Here is an excerpt from the powerful essay that lashes at the notion of the Indian patriarchal society that clothes provoke rapists:
Why? Why do you do that? Stare at my breasts like they are cute babies calling out to be cuddled. Strip me naked, slowly, every time I enter the bus? Try to glimpse into my cleavage when I am sitting and reading in the metro.
Who gives you the right? To grope me in the crowded bus? To fall on me “innocently” when I buy popcorn in the theater. When I sit cross legged in the auto and you stop your bike and look hungrily at my legs.
A piece of meat, am I?
How do you think I feel? When I have to continuously watch over my shoulder, because it is 10 pm and there is nobody at the bus stop, except you. Staring at my neck.
It has been two weeks since the violent riots against Muslims in the Sri Lankan coastal cities of Aluthgama and Beruwala. Although the situation has died down after widespread condemnation, sporadic violence against Muslims continues in different parts of Sri Lanka.
— abdulkhaleq (@HalikAzeez) June 29, 2014
Blogger D. B. S. Jeyaraj has details on the unsuccessful arson attack on the Thalayan Bawa Jumma Mosque on Borupane road in Ratmalana in the early hours of 29 June, 2014.